Sun Yang was always sure of victory, in the pool and in court. The now 29-year-old achieved eleven world titles between 2011 and 2019, plus three Olympic victories. Sun Yang could do it briefly, he could do it long, sometimes over 200 meters freestyle, sometimes over 800. And when he stepped in front of the photographers with his mother in his arms in Montreux in November 2019 after a ten-hour trial at the Cas International Sports Court, he was so sure to obtain an acquittal for telling the Chinese press that he would continue to be at the top of the podium. The message was clear: I’ll be back!
Does it really happen that way? Well, until shortly before Christmas, Sun Yang’s career was almost over: The Cas had put the Chinese in February with an eight-year ban. At the time, the court considered it proven that he had his blood sample, which had already been given, destroyed with a hammer during a chaotic doping control in autumn 2018 – this was to be regarded as inadmissible manipulation. Shaken by the verdict, Sun Yang announced an appeal to the Swiss federal court in early 2020; He had always pointed out that, in his opinion, the inspectors were insufficiently authorized and that the inspection was therefore inadmissible and void.
And now there was a turnaround that took the swimming world out of the Christmas spirit on December 23: the federal court lifted the ban on Sun Yang. Not because it considers the judgment wrong – only procedural errors and violations of human rights are checked anyway. However, the federal court classified the presiding judge of the CAS panel as biased. Decisive for this impression: tweets.
It’s the next curious twist in history. Originally, Sun Yang had only been warned by the world swimming federation Fina for the destroyed sample, the world anti-doping agency Wada then brought the case to the CAS, which finally came to its judgment after a turbulent public meeting in a hotel in Montreux . A spokesman for the Wada now told the New York Timesthat Franco Frattini’s tweets had moved the federal court to the decision.
The former Italian Foreign Minister and EU Commissioner is a committed animal rights activist and often posts eloquent statements about Chinese animal abusers – for Sun Yang’s lawyers that was a hit. They saw insults to the Chinese people in the digital statements, at least in one tweet including racist traits, which is why Frattini could not judge independently.
The focus is primarily on tweets from the summer of 2018, in which Frattini denounced the dog meat festival in Yulin, China. The words “bastards”, “sadists” and “hell” are often used in connection with the abusers of animals, once he wrote under a photo: “This terrible woman laughs while she eats dog meat. This confirms that these Chinese are the trash of the world and don’t know what humanity means. ” The Swiss Federal Supreme Court now seemed to follow the impression of Sun Yang’s lawyers that Frattini had disparaged not only against animal cruelty but also against the Chinese in general.
It cannot be ruled out that Sun Yang will now start at the Summer Games in Tokyo
Not only Frattini had spoken out in favor of the long suspension against Sun Yang, but also the two other CAS judges. The swimmer had already been noticed with a prohibited cardiac medication in 2014 and was now considered a repeat offender. The decision was then unanimous – but the allegations against the lawyer and ex-politician Frattini were finally enough to overturn the judgment. The case is now going back to the Cas, who announced a new trial with a new senior judge. A spokesman for the Cas said Washington Postthat it is regrettable that the objections against Frattini had not been raised earlier and that the sports court was therefore unable to examine the allegations itself.
In fact, the said tweets were already one and a half years old at the beginning of the process. And they are only one of two attempts by Sun Yang’s lawyers to challenge the verdict. With another application they wanted to have the duration of the ban checked, like the portal Inside the Games reported in the summer.
A date for the new negotiation has not yet been set, but one thing is clear: By lifting the ban, Sun Yang can now officially train again and take part in competitions. It is at least no longer ruled out that he could still start at the Olympic Games in Tokyo that begin in July. The fact that Sun Yang has a lot of stamina applies to both water and processes.